Reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton has tested positive for COVID-19, one day after winning the Bahrain Grand Prix.
The 35-year-old Brit, whose paternal grandparents are Grenadian, experienced mild symptoms on Monday and subsequently returned two positive tests for the viral illness.
Hamilton, who wrapped up a record-equalling seventh world title with victory at last month’s Turkish Grand Prix, is now self-isolating and will miss this weekend’s Sakhir Grand Prix.
“I’m devastated that I won’t be racing this weekend,” Hamilton said in a social media post.
“Since we started the season in June, my team and I have been taking all the precautions we possibly can and following the regulations everywhere we’ve been in order to stay safe.
“Unfortunately even though I returned three negative results this past week I woke up yesterday morning with mild symptoms and requested another test which came back positive. I’ve immediately gone into self-isolation for 10 days.”
He continued: “I’m gutted not to be able to race this weekend but my priority is to follow the protocols and advice to protect others. I’m really lucky that I feel OK with only mild symptoms and will do my best to stay fit and healthy.
“Please look after yourselves out there, you can never be too careful. These are worrying times for everyone and we need to make sure we are looking after ourselves and each other. Stay positive.”
Hamilton has picked up 11 wins in 15 outings this season, amassing 332 points to take an unassailable lead in the championship, being played out amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
His Finnish Mercedes teammate, Valtteri Bottas, who has won twice, lies second on 201 points with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen 12 points further behind in third.
Mercedes have yet to announce Hamilton’s replacement for this weekend’s race but media speculation here suggests Williams driver George Russell could fill in, with Mercedes already making an approach to the British team.
Mercedes reserve driver Stoffel Vandoorne will step in if the move for Russell fails to materialise.